The Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT) Department of Marketing, Supply Chain and Sport Management and the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) have made history by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide stakeholders within the Automotive Retail Aftermarket with an opportunity to further their studies by enrolling for a customised Diploma in Retail Business Management.
This first-of-a-kind agreement in South Africa will allow RMI members and their employees to enhance their knowledge and skills by enrolling for a three-year, fully online qualification that has been especially developed for the Retail Motor Industry. Owing to the COVID pandemic, the accreditation of this programme was unavoidably delayed, but in April 2023 Dr Elizma Wannenburg, Head of the Department of Marketing, Supply Chain and Sport Management at TUT, confirmed that everything was in place for the official commencement of this programme in July 2023.
“The RMI and TUT’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) commits to a close partnership between industry and the university by working towards a common goal of creating an innovation and education culture and spirit. The Diploma in Retail Business Management is a commendable achievement with the RMI encouraging closer collaboration between institutions of higher education and industry,” says Retail Motor Industry Organisation CEO, Jakkie Olivier.
Olivier says that the first cohort of students (employers and staff) will form part of a historical event. “This qualification, and especially the online delivery mode, represents a commendable achievement of which the RMI is extremely proud.”
Dr Wannenburg explains that the flexibility and convenience of a fully online offering provide members with an opportunity to actively engage in a learning experience that will provide significant value and benefits to both the learner and the employer.
Furthermore, Wannenburg added that the fully online mode would allow participants to study while they still continue with their day-to-day activities. “This personal development opportunity will assist in the upskilling of employees, which will ultimately lead to higher productivity, satisfaction levels and higher retention rates that will ultimately have a positive impact on the South African economy.” Wannenburg said she was honoured by the trust that the RMI has bestowed on her department.
Louis van Huyssteen, RMI National Training Director, says this project was initiated after the evaluation of various academic programmes offered at a number of universities in and around South Africa. “The content of this online programme is ideal and applicable to all our members, and the mode of offering will allow access to all our members no matter where they are based.”
Olivier says that over the years professionalisation of the industry has been one of the key focus areas of the organisation. “We proactively encourage closer collaboration between institutions of higher education and industry in order to provide more industry-appropriate qualifications that will inspire learners to educate themselves in a particular field.
“The Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) heeded the RMI’s call, and we are looking forward to the development of additional programmes that will enhance the service delivery and professionalism within the retail motor industry. This three-year Diploma in Retail Business Management is offered at a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 6 and is ideally positioned for astute and experienced employers and employees.”
Olivier further stated that the RMI foresaw the involvement of the Sector Education Training Authorities (SETAs) to start with possible opportunities for grant applications from employers, RMI constituent trade associations and the TUT. “The availability of such grants and possibly bursaries for the 2024 intake is a distinct possibility,” commented Olivier.
The RMI believed that education is key at a time when unemployment figures are running high, and well-skilled managers in the retail sector in the automotive aftermarket are in high demand. He believed that differentiating and educating yourself in a highly competitive market would open new doors to new opportunities and possibilities.
Olivier encourages employers within the motor sales, motor parts, equipment as well as the tyre sales sectors to actively promote this unique opportunity by identifying potential candidates that can form part of the first cohort of students. Applications will open soon and space within this specialised qualification is limited, hence he encourages employers to actively engage with staff to avoid disappointment.